Prevention of Hand Arthritis is not a Difficult Task
Arthritis in Hands
Imagine you are trying hard to open a jar or bottle to drink water but are unable to do that. This is something that can make you very frustrated, and you will feel helpless at that moment. This kind of feeling is common for those people who are suffering from hand osteoarthritis. In such a condition, you won’t be able to get a perfect grip.
This is also called osteoarthritis in the thumb. If you have this condition and are looking for an effective solution, it’s time to visit an orthopaedic surgeon. There are some treatments through which you can deal and prevent arthritis in your hands. But before that, you need to know completely about the hand or thumb arthritis, its causes, and symptoms. Go through the article to understand it clearly.
What is Hand or Thumb Arthritis?
Hand arthritis, the most common form of arthritis which generally affects the fingers. In such condition, the joints become inflamed causing terrible pain. Hand arthritis is common in the wrist, a basilar joint which connects the thumb and wrist, fingertips knew as DIP joint and middle knuckles of the fingers called as PIP joint. The cartilage between the joints wears down.
When it happens, it makes your bones to rub together without a cushion. Such rubbing develops inflammation, stiffness, and heavy pain. Such a condition leads to CMC arthritis. Arthritis in hands is specifically very painful and debilitating. The hands consist of nineteen bones and eight small bones that have a lot of small joints. The more common types of hand arthritis include:
- CMC osteoarthritis
- Post-traumatic arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Symptoms of Hand Arthritis
The hand arthritis symptoms may vary with each person. The symptoms mostly depend on the joint that is affected. However, some common symptoms are:
- Mild or severe ache while using the hands.
- Feeling of stiffness in the joint which can be more pronounced in the morning.
- Facing issues while moving the fingers.
- Weak grip.
- Swelling and tenderness in the knuckles and more.
- Deformed or distorted shape.
- Tenderness at the base.
Some people with the CMC osteoarthritis in the hands may not notice symptoms. Well, this can be a result of the slow development of hand osteoarthritis.
For some people, spurs in bones can be the symptom of advance CMC arthritis. If you don’t know about the bone spur, it is abone’s hardened area which connects itself to the joint. In the case of hand or thumb arthritis, that spurs called as Heberden’s nodes. You may feel hard swollen areas around the joints and near your fingertips. This is something which stays for the permanent period, and your finger will look deformed. People who have arthritis in the joints located in the middle of the finger may suffer from bony nodes which are known as Bouchard’s nodes.
Causes of Thumb Arthritis
Arthritis in hands is a degenerative joint disease primarily caused by inflammation and gradual reduction of the cartilage. This is the major components of every joint. The situation can arise without any particular reason or as based on the joint injury.
Primary Thumb Osteoarthritis:
In such condition, the cartilage which is a flexible tissue covering the ends of the bones forming a joint erodes gradually and becomes inflamed in the long run.
Secondary Thumb Osteoarthritis:
Injury to the joints, for example, a sprain or tear, can lead to inflammation and can damage the cartilage. Sometimes the joints may be misaligned while healing from any bone injuries.
It is quite hard to understand the exact cause of thumb or hand osteoarthritis; there are some risk factors which can affect your life badly.
Various Risk Factors for Hand Arthritis
The risk of hand arthritis increases when you:
- Have a family member who is also suffering from joint pain in different areas of the body.
- If you are of older age.
- If you are doing a job which involves a lot of hand-works, for example a manufacturing job.
- If you are suffering from hand injuries.
When you use your hands more, the joints and cartilages which support them go through more wear and tear. If you are a female, there is a great chance of hand arthritis. Women suffer more from osteoarthritis. People born with defective cartilage can also develop this condition.
Diagnosis for Hand Arthritis
The diagnosis of CMC arthritis consists a series of tests. When you first visit your doctor, the doctor will check the joints in your hand for symptoms of hand arthritis. He will check for the following symptoms:
- The hand tenderness.
- Swelling in joint of hand, the wrist or finger.
- Limited functions of joints.
In some cases, if the doctor is unable to identify the symptoms, he may go for some other tests. Such as:
- Bone scans or X-ray.
- CT Scans- Computerized tomography scan.
- MRI- Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
Symptoms related to arthritis in hands can be quite similar to other joint arthritis. The doctor may ask you to do blood tests. Some doctors prefer to go for joint fluid analysis to detect any sign of inflammation. All the tests will help the doctor to know whether your hand arthritis is causing the symptoms.
Treatments for Hand or Thumb Arthritis
Medication of Pain
To get instant relief from pain caused by arthritis in hand, you can use inflammatory medication, for example, you can take ibuprofen and naproxen. However, if you have severe hand arthritis, you may require a stronger prescription. The doctor may prescribe injections if inflammatory medication fails to provide you relief. The injection of anti-inflammatory medicines or injection of anaesthetics can lower the pain in the joints quickly, and you may not feel the pain for some months.
Stiffy finger can severely affect the way you use your hand to perform certain tasks. Such a condition can be very challenging for you. If you have hand arthritis, you can practice some range-of-motion exercises which can be very beneficial for you. Practice such exercises for a few times every day to keep your hand flexible. You can do the following exercises:
1. Knuckle bends hand exercise: For this, gently bend your middle knuckles like you are creating a claw with the hands after that straight your finger. Repeat the steps for around 10-15 times.
2. Fists hand exercise: Here you need to form a first using your hand finger and after that unroll the finger. Practice this slowly to prevent pain.
3. Finger touches exercise: Gently touch your thumb to each fingertip. If you feel any pain while stretching your fingers, then don’t do this exercise.
4. Wall walking exercise: Move your finger in the way you move your leg while walking. Walk the fingers up a wall and then down.
Using a Splint
The primary purpose of using a splint is to offer perfect support to the CMC joint of your thumb. It dramatically lowers the strain off your joint. A quality splint or thumb support device will position the thumb, and you can easily touch the tip of the index finger thumb.
There are custom splints which can be forged directly to the hand by the occupational therapist. However, there is also pre-made splint which is available in a variety of options. Prefer to wear it while doing works that require movement of the thumb. If you want you can even use them at night to keep your thumb in a perfect resting position.
A professional hand therapist will be able you teach you some effective ways to lower the pain caused due to arthritis in hands. With the therapy, you can protect your joints, and prevent stiffness in finger joints.
Your doctor can recommend cortisone injection to lower the pain. It is a steroid which will be injected directly into the joint and you will get relief from the inflammation. However, before taking such an injection, always prefer to talk to your doctor and understand the symptoms.
In severe cases, the doctor may ask you to go for surgery such as joint replacement surgery. When pain has reached the point that it limits function in daily activities, surgery can be quite beneficial. In surgery, a bone in your wrist is removed. A small portion of muscle or tendon will be taken from your forearm and placed in the open space. This is also known as Ligament Reconstruction and Tendon Interposition (LRTI).
A healthy diet will greatly help you in preventing CMC osteoarthritis. The Arthritis Foundation has proved this. The diet must include fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. Being overweight will put more pressure on your joints and develop osteoarthritis. The diet should include:
Different studies have proved that dark-colored vegetables and fruits contain substances which control the inflammation in the body.
No matter which option you are choosing, you have to pay attention when you feel pain in your thumbs.